I flew late in the evening this past July from Edinburgh airport onto the sandy south end of the Shetland Islands. It was a clear night but the pilot warned of wind. Upon our approach, the 35-passenger turboprop bounced and shimmied.
It’s my third visit to Shetland. Each time the Simmer Dim falls slowly, making for short twilight nights. If the skies are clear, the soft light blends land with sea with sky. Few shadows are cast to make distinctions in the landscape.
The light I see upon arrival is yellow-white, bathing the brown-green hills. But after the first dim, I wake to thick and layered cloud cover. For the next two weeks, the clouds pile up, tumble, and rain. The wind is dogged. I scramble in gloves and wool beret, about the hills above my great-grandmother’s croft ruin. The legs of the tripod sink into the wet peat; I step on a boulder and it wobbles. Nothing in this landscape seems firm.